Sea-Level Rise and Floodplain Management

With funding from NOAA, we are partnering with scientists, engineers, and managers to support local communities as they grapple with the links between sea-rise and coastal flooding.


Coastal communities need to take sea-level rise into account as they plan for the future. But sea-level rise science is uncertain, difficult to understand, and sometimes hard to access in a useful way. And in many cases, existing regulations and institutions do not include an official mandate to consider future sea-level rise as part of planning and other decisions.

When the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) recognized an opportunity to address these challenges in the specific context of floodplain management, they reached out to us for help in translating science, and coordinating across the many government, private, and academic institutions that would need to be involved.


Ocean Science Trust collaborated with DWR and scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography on a successful proposal to the NOAA Coastal Ocean Climate Applications program. As a result, we are now addressing the complex and evolving needs of coastal managers and planners by translating new information on regional-scale sea-level rise, wave runup and tides into products that are directly relevant to them. In addition, we are connecting this work with other projects focused on sea-level rise in California, in an effort to avoid unnecessary overlap, and clarify the resources available to coastal decision makers.


All the work on this project is shaped by the findings of a Science Needs Assessment conducted by the Ocean Science Trust, and input from an interagency Focus Group of floodplain managers and coastal decision-makers. Having these products informed by stakeholders and potential users helps improve their utility, reach, and impact in helping decision-makers manage coastal flooding for future sea-level rise.

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